The Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act, signed into law on August 22, 2007, requires that New York employers accommodate the needs of nursing mothers to express breast milk during business hours. Specifically, employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of paid or unpaid break time during each work day sufficient to permit an employee to express breast milk. This accommodation must be provided until the child is at least two years old. In addition, the employer must provide a “private accommodation” for the employee to use while expressing breast milk. This private accommodation must be within close proximity of the employee’s work area and may not be a bathroom stall or storage area. Finally, the Act prohibits discrimination against employees who choose to express breast milk in the workplace.
An employer is not required to provide the break time prescribed under the Act “if to do so would seriously disrupt the operations of the employer.” While the Act does not provide any further explanation of this exception, this high standard is likely to be difficult for employers to meet except in unusual circumstances.
New York employers should review applicable policies to ensure compliance with the Act and arrange for the required accommodations to be made.